We all know what gambling is. Gambling is taking risky action in hope of a desired reward and that reward is often not likely to be realized.
The odds are against you.
Since it's not a good practice for most of us, gambling is only legal in places where our state governments get a piece of the action, which is to say our expected losses.
But gambling is also legal at the U.S. Weather Service and on weather forecasts in newspapers, TV and radio across the world.
Weather forecasters are big time gamblers. Anyone who bets his or her career on what the weather is going to be tomorrow is definitely taking a risky action in hope of a desired reward – like keeping a job.
Weather just doesn't do what it's supposed to do.
So at some point weather forecasters decided to stop being gamblers. Instead, they became odds makers. Odds makers are people who predict the outcome of an event, like a horse race or the weather, and set odds for the betters.
When weather forecasters became odds makers, we became the gamblers betting our day-to-day plans on whether or not the weather forecasters will be right.
Like all good gamblers, the way they set the odds made sure they could never lose.
Weather forecaster: "So tomorrow it looks like there will be a 33 percent chance of rain. There's also a 33 percent chance of sunshine and a 33 percent chance of snow. That leaves a 1 percent chance for the apocalypse. Looking ahead to the weekend, it looks like it will be on Saturday and Sunday. That's all we can tell you for now. So have a great day tomorrow at your family picnic, or snow sledding. Or maybe you should just go to a movie. Good night and good luck."
All last week the weather forecast for area called for heavy rain all day on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The odds for thunderstorms were set at 80 percent for both days. My wife and I had planned our last golf outing of the year with out-of-town family for those days.
Wife: "It's going to pour. I'm not going golfing in the rain."
Me: "The weather forecasters didn't say it's going to rain. They just said there was an 80 percent chance of rain. That means there's a 20 percent chance it will be sunny and beautiful. There have been a million times sports teams had only 20 percent odds of wining and they've come through.
Wife: "You're a Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan."
Me: "Okay, bad example in my cse. But you get the point. It might not rain."
Wife: "I'm calling my sister in Chicago. And think we'll have to cancel this golf outing."
Me: "You know what the forecasters are going to do, don't you? In the last minute they'll change the odds and go with sunshine instead of rain. You can't make decisions based on these forecasts."
It did rain last Monday and Tuesday. A little. But more than 80 percent of both days it was delightful outside and we could have enjoyed two wonderful days of golf. Instead, we did nothing. Indoors.
Of course, a gentleman would never mention anything about this to his wife.
This is where is pays off to not be a gentleman.
Me: "What is that big, bright ball out there in the sky lighting up the world? Why, I think it's the sun overcoming the odds. It's too bad we aren't on the golf course today. I can imagine the sun shinning over the fairways. I might have hit a hole in one!"
Wife: "Since when have you been on the fairways on a golf course? You're always in the woods."
Me: "Not true. Sometimes I'm in the water. You should never put too much faith in the weather odds. Twenty percent chances sometimes do finish first."
Well, it's not my wife's fault. Not being a sports enthusiast or a gambler she's not used to dealing with odds.
But it is no gamble that the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the need to do our outdoor chores before winter arrives is getting urgent.
Wife: "I know you hate it. But tomorrow we need to pull and cut down plants and flowers and rake some leaves."
Me: "Are you kidding? There's no way I can do that."
Wife: "Why not?"
Me: "Have you checked the weather forecast for tomorrow? There's an 80 percent chance of rain